Fiat Chrysler Automobiles (FCA) and the Mini Cooper Roadster have ranked best in a quality index rating that takes more into account than just how few problems a marque experiences.
The Strategic Vision Total Quality Index (TQI) takes into account more than 155 specifics in customers’ experiences beyond just the problems they report with their vehicles (which may have been an acceptable even just 15 years ago when vehicle quality wasn’t at the level it is today), and converts them all to a 1,000 point scale.
“In 1997, only 15% of all car brands had less than a half-a-problem per vehicle, with a few brands having more than two problems per vehicle,” explained Alexander Edwards, President of Strategic Vision. “In 2015, all brands had less than half-a-problem on average per vehicle. This means that simply counting problems once had a place in history, but today, knowing what creates love and that which enhances the customer’s perception of quality are key to determining what is best.”
For the 20th annual edition, FCA came out on top with a score of 859, beating out second place Volkswagen Group and General Motors (tied), by a single point. At the model level, the Mini Cooper Roadster scored best with 935, taking the Standard Convertible class in the process. It topped a couple Corvettes – in the Premium Convertible/Roadster and Coupe categories – with scores of 929 and 919, respectively.
FCA also managed to score six category winners – Dodge Challenger (Specialty Coupe), Charger (Full-Size Car) and Durango (Mid-Size SUV), Fiat 500 and 500e (Small Multi-Function Car and Small Alternative Powertrain Car, respectively), and Jeep Wrangler (Entry SUV).
“FCA has incrementally risen from one segment leader in 2010 to six in 2015,” says Strategic Vision Senior Vice President Christopher Chaney. “Though at Strategic Vision we often preach about looking forward, it’s hard to not be in admiration of the turn-around achieved by FCA. We know customers are the smartest they’ve ever been about determining quality, and it behooves car makers to really understand what drives quality perception and loyalty – it is love for the product.”
General Motors netted the most individual winners with seven, including the two Corvettes mentioned earlier. Other categories were captured by the Buick Encore (tied for Entry Crossover), Cadillac Escalade (Luxury SUV), Chevrolet Colorado (Standard Pickup) and GMC Yukon XL (Full-Size Utility) and Sierra 2500/3500 (Heavy-Duty Pickup).
Including the Mini Roadster, the BMW Group fielded five all-stars with the others being the BMW 3 Series Wagon (Luxury Multi-Function Car), i3 (Near-Luxury Alternative Powertrain Car), X4 (Near Luxury Utility) and X5 (Luxury Crossover).
Mercedes-Benz captured two categories – the CLA-Class (Near Luxury Car) and S-Class (Luxury Car) – with the Smart fortwo taking a third (Microcar). Two each were recorded by Honda (Accord Hybrid in Mid-Size Alternative Powertrain Car and Odyssey in Minivan), Nissan (Murano in Mid-Size Crossover and Titan in Full-Size Pickup) and Subaru (Outback in Mid-Size Multi-Function Car and WRX in Mid-Size Car).
The Mazda3 and Volkswagen Tiguan each took a category – Small Car and Entry Crossover (in a tie with the Encore), respectively.
Geographically, North American brands and Europeans each accounted for 11 of the 28 category wins (each represented in the tied Entry Crossover category) and Asians took seven classes.
Strategic Vision is a research-based consultancy group that works with many Fortune 100 clients to understand consumer decision-making processes. Its New Vehicle Experience Study polled over 325,000 consumers (including 46,000 car owners to arrive at the TQI results) and collected over 445 variables of data, including what mobile-phone platform users link up to their vehicles and how they use it (phone calls, streaming music, etc.).